Sao Nicolau is a paradise for nature lovers. Nature is impressive with flora and fauna and green mountain landscapes waiting to be discovered. Sao Nicolau is an island with many aspects: lots of nice little villages with pastel colored houses, long white beaches to relax, a great sea to dive or to do (kite) surfing and nice festivals. On this island you can travel off the beaten track and enjoy the authentic Cape Verde. There is something for everyone for a wonderful holiday.
About a half hour flight from Sal is Sao Nicolau located, it is one of the less discovered islands of Cape Verde. Sugar cane and coffee plantations characterize the foot of the mountain ranges that of Sao Nicolau. There also grow a lot of bananas, oranges, papayas, and beans. The rocky island is about 45 to 20 kilometers with the highest point at 1,300 meters (Monte Gordo). The area around the highest mountain is also the most fertile.
Sights Sao Nicolau
National park Monte Gordo
The national park Monte Gordo is located in the west of the island and has approximately 952 hectares of rich ecology. In the park there is also the highest mountain at 1,300 meters of altitude. During the ascent of this mountain you will be certain to walk above the clouds. The biodiversity in the park is unique and varied because of the changing climate. From areas with high humidity because of the fog and rain to very dry areas. There are 32 endemic plant species of which the majority is endangered. In the green area you can make impressive walks or explore parts of it with a rental car.
This is the capital of Sao Nicolau, situated on the slope of the mountain. The many pastel-colored colonial buildings and beautiful green gardens make this an interesting place to visit. In the center there are many narrow and steep streets with small typical shops. You will also find an impressive cathedral with dates from the 17th century.
This fishing port was in the far past an important center for whaling. From this small village you will have a great view of the volcanic plateau. There is also still admire a Portuguese fort.
About 15 kilometers from the town of Tarrafal is the natural phenomenon of Carbeirinho located. A giant cave and rocks that are shaped by the wind and other weather influence. The cliffs have different colors and are surrounded by green vegetation. In the cave and rocks freshwater is flowing which is causing a high humidity in the area. Cabeirinho is located by a bay with a beautiful black sandy beach. It is a favorite place for the locals chill during the weekends.
Music and dance are an important part of the Cape Verdian tradition. In February there is the exciting and colorful three-day carnival. There are also many festivals in the summer. Christian holidays are very extensively celebrated and there are various festivities all the year round.
Apart from the hiking trails in the national park Monte Gordo, there are many other routes recommended. For example, in the middle of the island there is a route where you can see the crater of an active volcano. Or a route where you decend to the coast through different colorful plantations of orange trees and papayas. The large amount of varied trails of Sao Nicolau makes it therefore one of the best islands of Cape Verde for walking.
How to get to Sao Nicolau?
You can get to Sao Nicolau via a domestic flight from the islands Sal and Sao Vicente. Flights depart several times a week. The descent to the airport is surprisingly nice as the airplane is flying along a volcanic crater. For all flight information please check out our page about domestic and international flights to Cape Verde. A taxi from the airport to the city takes about 10 minutes and costs around 6-8 euros. It is also possible to take an aluguer.
You also can take the ferry to get to Sao Nicolau. The ferry ride is less comfortable and less fast, but it is cheaper than flying. In general, ferries from Sao Nicolau are heading to Sao Vicente and Santiago (and visa versa). The price of a ticket (one way) is around the 50 euros.